Just behind the New York Public Library, this park is a welcome respite from the endless high-rises and crushing crowds of Midtown, a 4-acre lawn surrounded by London plane tree–shaded promenades (like the Tuileries Gardens in Paris), benches, and statuary. It’s notable for its extensive programs of public concerts, movies, and even free language classes. From roughly May through October, the Sixth Avenue end of the park is set up as a stage, where Broadway performers are often invited to give concerts, free movies are shown in the summer (Monday nights), and other events are held. In winter a small “pond” is erected for free ice-skating.
On the 40th Street side is Le Carrousel ($3 per ride, June–Oct 11am–8pm; Nov–Jan Sun–Thurs 11am–9pm, Fri–Sat 11am–10pm; Feb 11am–8pm; Mar–May 11am–7pm), an elegant little merry-go-round that spins to the sounds of French cabaret music. A good spot for a picnic, Bryant Park has a bunch of chain restos across the street, including salad nirvana Chopt. There are pricey, so-so restaurants on the north side of the park (go for drinks, not dinner).
- Pauline Frommer